Confession time. I was a bit of a curmudgeon on the evening of July the 2nd. I got irritated after someone began celebrating the Fourth of July a bit early. They were shooting off noise makers that were living up to their name. I have children that range from 7 months to 8 years at the time of this writing. Sleep for them equals rest for us too. Thankfully, no children woke and I soon forgot about it until the night of the Fourth.
I had a major headache and did not at first particularity want to see or hear any fireworks. Yet, a family member wanted to set some off and my older children were really excited to see them. So we planned to see them. As an aside he did a great job!
Candidly, I have not always had such a cheerful attitude for spontaneous fireworks particularly around my house. When people unexpectedly shoot them off they are jarring and irritating for the rest of us that just want a little quiet.
If they had woke in my less than generous moments, I would have wanted to start quoting Old Testament imprecatory prayers or reenact the vengeance sequences from any Quentin Tarantino movie on whoever woke my children. Needless to say this curmudgeon attitude came back to mind on the Fourth after seeing and hearing fireworks light up the night when part of me just wanted to skip it for a bit of quiet.
Should we be this way? Sometimes we need to be startled.
Some 200 years ago, Francis Scott Key wrote on board the British ship HMS Tonnant what would become the Star Spangled Banner as the British fired on Fort McHenry in part of the War of 1812. Key was on board to discuss prisoner exchange and was stuck on the ship as the war waged. Key did not know if the fort would stand or fall as the British fired upon it during the Battle of Baltimore. The dark night sky was punctuated by moments of light from the artillery that lit up the normal quiet as shells fell on the fort. Key wrote the words of the Star Spangled Banner after the early morning light showed that the flag was still standing.
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Some folks go out and celebrate on the Fourth because of patriotism. Others just enjoy big explosions and family. Regardless, those sights and sounds mean something greater than the folks doing them. They are a testament of hope.
Each explosion is like a peaceful reenactment of Key’s poem. “The bombs bursting in air” that “gave proof through the night that our flag was still there” were so long ago and the modern equivalent are sounds of national peace, hope, and joy. Those fireworks that jar our quiet night are a symbol that hope can win in a uncertain world.
The secret is that the celebration of hope really is worth it and sometimes we need to be jarred from our quiet. How we respond is our choice. We can either be curmudgeons or cheerful Christians.
A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
Christians of all people should be joyful during July 4th. We do not worship the created nation but we can and should thank God for his part in forming our nation. We Christians need not be curmudgeons because freedom is a gift from God. We need to remember those words from Proverbs 15:13 also as it relates to our neighbors. Be glad in your heart for the grace of living in s nation with so many blessings then you will have a cheerful face to those shooting off fireworks around the Fourth of July regardless of their motivation for doing so.
So if it wakes the children, then give them an extra hug. Thank God Almighty that the sounds are of nation of collective joy and not a nation at collective war. Be of a glad heart and be of good cheer around and on July the 4th.